The Latest Stop On The Kelly Johnson World Domination Tour

Before the season ends, I want to pay tribute to the happy wanderings of Mr. Kelly Andrew Johnson, who began his Major League career as an Atlanta Braves outfielder, then their starting second baseman, and has recently been playing anywhere for anyone.

Kelly Johnson was drafted by the Braves in 2000 and made his debut as an outfielder in 2005.  He missed most of 2006 and came back as a 2nd baseman in 2007.
2009 Topps Kelly Johnson

In December, 2009, he signed with the Diamondbacks as a free agent.
2011 Topps Kelly Johnson

In August, 2011 (his “walk year”), he was traded to the Blue Jays for for Aaron Hill and John McDonald. (This is where the fun starts)
2012Topps Kelly Johnson
He became a free agent but re-signed with the Jays.

After the 2012 season, he became a free agent again, this time signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.
2013 Topps Kelly Johnson

After one season in Tampa, he became a free agent again, and signed with the Yankees.
2014 Topps Kelly Johnson

At the 2014 trading deadline, he was traded to the Red Sox for Stephen Drew.
2014 Topps Update Kelly Johnson

One month later, Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar were traded to the Orioles for Ivan DeJesus and Jemile Weeks. (This card is a custom, BTW).
2014 Schmeritage Kelly Johnson

When he got traded to the Orioles, he completed the cycle by playing for all five AL East teams.

Over this past offseason, he went back to the Braves, and I held off on this post until after I got my 2015 Topps factory set, thinking that Kelly Johnson would be on one of the 700 cards — but I was mistaken.  We’ve got to wait for Topps Update or Heritage High Numbers to get Kelly Johnson on a 2015 card, so I’m going to repeat the 2009 card to stand in for a 2015 Braves card.
2009 Topps Kelly Johnson

In July the Braves traded Kelly and Juan Uribe to the Mets for two minor league pitchers.
2015 TSR #307 - Kelly Johnson

Just to recap, that’s 8 teams over the past 5 seasons, including all of the teams in the AL East and two out of five in the NL East.  So far this season, he’s played at first, second, third, short, left field, right field and DH (although only one game each as a shortstop and DH).

Just for fun, here’s another custom I’m “reprinting” from last year featuring Kelly Johnson and Kelli Johnson of Comcast SportsNet.
2014 TSR PP-3 Kelly Kelli Johnson
Kelli Johnson’s also been on the move;  this past winter she moved from Comcast SportsNet Houston to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.  Before that, she was with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.

You Can’t Spell “Korea Baseball Organization” Without A Couple Of O’s

Is it just me, or has the quality of baseball players going over to Korea significantly improved this winter?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like the Kia Tigers had discussions with Robinson Cano, but it seems like the names involved are a bit more notable this year… From a baseball card perspective, there will be players in Korea who have been appearing in Topps sets fairly regularly in the past.

It could be that it just seems notable to me because I’ve seen several of the players when they played for the Orioles.

The most notable former Oriole to go to Korea is Luke Scott, who will be playing for the SK Wyverns.
2012 Topps Luke Scott
Luke peaked in 2010 and has been on the downslope since then, but since when does a guy with 9 years of MLB service, a guy who was a Major League regular for several years, go to the KBO?

Most Orioles fans will remember Josh Bell. He was obtained from the Dodgers in the George Sherrill trade, and was supposed to be the Orioles’ Third Baseman of the future, but he never batted better than .214 in the Majors.2012 Topps Josh Bell
Josh Bell will be playing for the LG Twins next year.

Incidentally, LG is the electronics company. Like Japanese baseball, the teams are owned by corporations which promote themselves through the teams.

The final former Oriole in our trilogy is Félix Pie, will be playing for the Hanwha Eagles…
2011 Topps Felix Pie
Pie was a former top Cubs prospect and even though he’s spent much of the last two seasons in the minors, he had been on the Pirates 40-man roster and asked for his release so he could play in Korea.  I think that’s what started catching my attention – the fact that a couple of the guys going there weren’t castoffs, but guys who were on the 40-man.

The Hanwha Eagles have a pretty cool logo;  I’d wear a cap with this on it:

Hanwha Eagles Logo

It’s not just former Orioles going over to Korea; Jorge Cantu, who has a couple of 100 RBI seasons on his resume, is going to the Doosan Bears.

2011 Topps Update Jorge Cantu

By the way, over on there was an interesting interview with C.J. Nitkowski, who’s pitched in the Majors as well as Japan and Korea.  You can link to it here.

CRY – 1, STK – 0

While we’re on the subject of non-North American leagues, my new favorite game on the weekend is to turn on the English Premier League match and try to figure out the two teams just from the three-letter abbreviation use for the score at the top of the screen.

While I enjoy watching soccer, I’m far from a fan.  Most of my knowledge of the EPL comes from British TV, music and other bits of popular culture. I know the “biggies” like Manchester United and Arsenal, but my expertise goes rapidly downhill from there.

This morning’s score threw me a bit. I guessed that “STK” meant Stoke City, and I turned out to be right… But “CRY”? What the heck is “CRY”?

The match was in the 85th minute, so I waited it out to find that the final score showed Stoke City losing to…

…drum roll please…

Crystal Palace. D’OH! I should’ve gotten that.

Photo Clichés #4: Arroyo’s Revenge

I recently pulled a 2012 Bronson Arroyo out of a pack, which reminded me that I haven’t done an Arroyo Photo Cliché post in a while. Topps was kind enough to give us a leg kick.
2012 Topps Bronson Arroyo

I’ve also got two other cards I ran across while organizing…

2006 Allen & Ginter is a portrait… How boring.

2005 Topps Total is a non-leg-kick action shot. Even more boring.

So here are the stats…

Leg Kick: 2006 Upper Deck, 2006 Topps, 2007 Topps, 2009 Topps, 2010 Topps, 2011 Topps, 2012 Topps

Posed/Portrait: 2005 Topps, 2006 A&G, 2008 Heritage

Action Shot without a leg kick: 2002 Upper Deck, 2005 Topps Total, 2009 Upper Deck

Leg Kick Average: .538 (7 leg kicks out of 13 cards)

I’ve got to track down the 2008 Topps card;  if that’s a leg kick, then Topps has done the leg kick on its base cards for 7 years running.

Let’s close things out with a review of the 6 leg kick cards I’d previously featured…

2011 Topps Bronson Arroyo 2007 Topps Bronson Arroyo 2009 Topps Bronson Arroyo 2010 Topps Bronson Arroyo 2006 Topps Bronson Arroyo 2006 UD Bronson Arroyo

Hold Me Closer, Tiny Blaster

I almost missed the Topps Update blaster when I went to Target yesterday; the blaster box is much smaller than had been used before … well, on the brands that I buy. Now that I think about it, the Football blasters might have been this size as well. I picked the box up thinking it was a “cereal box” and was surprised to see the $19.99 MSRP, and then I saw the part about 10 packs plus a mannypatch card.

In the category of “One man’s meat…”, I was annoyed as anything to have pulled a blaster with two packs of red Target parallel cards. I don’t collect parallels, so these are of no use to me, other than something to send in my next shipment to COMC so I can hopefully use the credit to buy something far more interesting (which wouldn’t be hard – Did I mention I really don’t like parallels?)

The Blockbuster cards are pretty nice-looking; here’s the patch card I pulled, which is nicer in person than in this scan. This is also going to COMC in the next shipment.

I’ll have more about the cards tomorrow, when I have more time (and if I’m late for work, it’s ALL YOUR FAULT! I hope you’re satisfied!). For those who like the numbers, here’s the breakdown of what was in my blaster:
50 base cards
12 Target red parallels
5 Gold parallels
3 minis
3 Golden Moments
2 Blockbuster cards
2 “Beerfractor” parallels
2 Golden Giveaway Cards (I got a Lou Gehrig virtual coin – my first HOFer, for whatever that’s worth. I also got a Dustin Pedrioa virtual coin, which gave me 6 unique player coins, which got me a $10 e-gift card code.  Ooh.)
1 Golden Great
and, of course, one mannypatch card.

In my case, 20 of the 81 cards are going to COMC, and two more were Golden Giveaway cards which were redeemed and recycled.  Not a promising start.

Pack Animal: 2012 Topps Series 2

An after-work Target trip lead to an unexpected purchase:

So, wouldya like to see what I got?  Wouldya?  Wouldya?  I’ll admit, I didn’t get any big hits (They were loose packs, maybe the feelers  had already struck).  I was pretty happy with what I did get.  Being Series Two, I got veterans in new uniforms…

…and rookies (Jarrod Parker no hit the Rangers through 8  innings earlier this week, not too shabby)…

…and a Met…

…and an Oriole…

“My name is Yim Yohnson, I work in Wisconsin, I work in a lumbermill there…”

As for inserts, the Walk-Offs and Timeless inserts have been replaced by two new inserts:

You can’t tell from the scan, but this “Cut Above” insert is die-cut, it’s got a sort of jagged cut to it.  I normally don’t go much for die-cuts, but this is a nice-looking card.  I fear that that might be largely due to the sweet photo, because I also got a Mickey Mantle Cut Above insert, and it didn’t have the same effect on  me.  Part of it is because it wasn’t as good of a photo (it looks like a colorized B&W photo), and part is because it’s Mantle, and I’m suffering from a severe case of Mickey Mantle overexposure (i.e. “I’M SICK TO BLOODY DEATH OF MANTLES!”)

The other new insert is Mound Dominance, which isn’t great, but is better than either of the replaced inserts.  It doesn’t scan well;  there’s silver foil on top, and the green strike zone graphic doesn’t GLOW on the card like it does in this scan.

Other highlights of my packs…


Bruce Chen is one of the players I collect, so he’s a welcome addition.

I also got a Pirate… Pirates fans, I apologize, you haven’t gotten  much from the Pirates being my “Emergency Backup Team” yet, but the Mets & Orioles have been doing well, and the Pirates… Um, the Pirates…. HEY, LOOK!  IT’S GARRETT JONES!

And now’s ze time on Ze Shlabotnik Report ven ve DANCE!!!!

2012 Topps Strasburg Golden Moments game-used; 2012 Topps Tracker #11 (Now with more stats!)

During a recent pack-ripping session I was thinking to myself that I’ve been pulling a lot of crap inserts from 2012 Topps.  A couple of packs later, I pulled this piece of Strasburg apparel.  I need to mentally curse out Topps more often…

With this post, I’m going to put the Topps Tracker on hiatus for a little while;  I’m largely done buying packs of Series 1 because I’ve gotten to the point where the packs I’m opening have more unwanted “Golden” inserts than cards I need.

As we’re at a breaking point, I’ll break down all the Golden inserts I’d previously lumped together, and put in a little more statistical analysis than I normally do….

Money spent:  $97.96;  1 blaster, 7 hobby packs, 7 retail packs, 2 hanger packs, 2 “Value” blasters.

Base cards:  396 (80.2% of the cards purchased)

Minis: 12 (2.4%)

Target Parallels:  13 (2.6%)

Beerfractor parallels:  8 (1.6%)

Manupatches:  1 (0.2%, although that’s meaningless because it didn’t come from a pack)

Relics:  2 (0.4%)

Code cards:  8 (1.6%)

Golden Futures:  9 (1.8%)

Timeless Talents:  9 (1.8%)

Gold Standard: 6 (1.2%)

Golden Moments:  10 (2%)

Golden Greats:  14 (2.8%)

Walk-Offs:  6 (1.2%)

Base set progress:  243 cards (73.6% complete)

Mini set progress:  11 cards (22% complete)

Golden Futures set progress:  8 cards (32% complete)

Average price per card (includes sales tax): $0.198

(1-0) 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

Pretty good pitching line, don’t you think?  What if it were the first major league game the player pitched in?  Still more impressive?
How about if that pitching line came from this guy?

Yep, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis (who started the game as the DH) pitched two innings in yesterday’s Orioles 17-inning win over Boston and got the win.  He said he pitched in college, and he did look like he had something of a clue of what he was doing, even if he clearly had some trouble pitching from the stretch.  We might not be talking about the win if not for a beautiful relay and play at the plate involving Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters.  The Orioles won in 17 innings and swept the Red Sox in Boston for the first time since 1994.

Don’t look now, but as I’m posting this the Orioles have the best record in baseball (19-9).  They’ll probably go on a 20-game losing streak now that I’ve jinxed them, but it’s been quite a few years since the Orioles have been this much fun to watch.

2012 Pedro Alvarez, Topps Tracker #10

Pedro Alvarez is starting to show signs of hitting like the second overall pick in the 2008 draft should.  Over the past 7 days, he’s batting .294 with 2 homers and 4 RBI.

I love how the internet works, though.. I search on  his name and I see references to Baseball America calling him a bust.  I tried to find something about it on the Baseball America website, but the most I could find was the “Ask BA” feature where the most damning things Jim Callis says are “I thought Alvarez was the best player in the 2008 draft, but he certainly hasn’t played like it”, and if he doesn’t come around, “you could argue that he’s the biggest waste of hitting talent in draft history”.  That’s not calling him a bust, people.  Listen to your Uncle Joe, boys and girls… Don’t jump to conclusions on quotes taken out of context, especially when the quotes come from politicians and movie ads which cite reviews.


Topps Tracker time!  I didn’t buy any cards this week, but I opened one pack from a Value Box…  It’s been another busy week.

Money spent:  $97.96;  1 blaster, 7 hobby packs, 7 retail packs, 2 hanger packs, 2 “Value” blasters.

Base cards:  356

Minis: 10

Target Parallels:  13

Beerfractor parallels:  7

Manupatches:  1

Relics:  1

Code cards:  8

Other Inserts:  47

Base set progress:  239 cards (72.4% complete)
Mini set progress:  10 cards (20% complete

2012 Topps Tracker Number Nine… Number Nine… Number Nine…

The subject line has nothing to do with anything, it just popped in my head when I was typing “Topps Tracker #9”.  Beatle-philes will know it as a reference to the Beatles track – I won’t call it a song –  “Revolution #9”, which includes someone repeatedly saying “Number nine… number nine…”.  If you play that part backwards, it sounds like “Turn me on, dead man… Turn me on, dead man” and was supposed to have been one of the clues to a covered-up death of Paul McCartney.  I find the “Paul is dead” clues to be fascinating, and there are so many of them that I don’t see how it can be a coincidence…  More likely John Lennon lashing out at Paul in a passive aggressive way.

To the left is the 2012 Topps card of Philip Humber, I don’t think I need to explain why he’s here.

2012 Topps Tracker time!  Since the last Topps Tracker I’ve bought two of the “Value Boxes” which includes 5 packs of Series One, Two hobby packs of Heritage and a super-duper nifty keen-o shiny card of guys for whom you already have 500 super-duper nifty keen-o shiny cards.

I’ve only opened 3 of the combined 10 Series One packs, so in my next Topps Tracker the card totals below will increase while the amount spent will not.

Oh, one other thing… I was surprised to find my local hobby shop had a value box for $1 cheaper than my local Target.  Keep that in mind, my droogies…

Money spent:  $97.96;  1 blaster, 7 hobby packs, 7 retail packs, 2 hanger packs, 2 “Value” blasters.

Base cards:  350

Minis: 10

Target Parallels:  13

Beerfractor parallels:  7

Manupatches:  1

Relics:  1

Code cards:  8

Other Inserts:  45

Base set progress:  236 cards (71.3% complete)
Mini set progress:  10 cards (20% complete)

And my Emergency Backup Team for 2012 is…

I have to apologize… I was being pretty good about featuring a different candidate each week, I got sidetracked by new releases and life in general, and then I realized “Holy crap, it’s almost opening day and I haven’t finished my EBT posts!”

So far I’ve discussed the Rockies, Cubs, Mariners and Pirates.   I had a couple of other candidates in mind, and I’ll run through them quickly before I get to the team I’ve chosen…

Athletics (2011 record: 74-88, 3rd place in the AL West)

Favored Players on 40-man:  Brad Peacock
Top 100: Brad Peacock, Jarrod Parker, Chris Carter, Tom Milone¸Collin Cowgill,  Graham Godfrey, Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Taylor
Under 5’10”:  Jemile Weeks, Collin Cowgill, Fabio Castro (NR)
Mrs. Shlabotnik loves the yellow alts, but the A’s chances of being the EBT took a major hit when they signed Manny.

Royals (71-91, 4th place in AL Central)

Favored Players on 40-man:  Bruce Chen, Tim Collins, Jeff Francoeur
Top 100:  Johnny Giavotella, Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, Kelvin Herrera, Wil Myers
Under 5’10”:  Tim Collins, Johnny Giavotella, Jarrod Dyson, Tony Abreu (NR)
In my much younger days on Long Island, someone tried to sell me Yankees tickets by saying “They’re playing the Royals, so you know it’ll be a good game”.  The Royals were a contender for much of my youth, I long for the days when that’s true again… Well, the Kansas City part, anyway.  The Yankees can’t begin to suck soon enough for me.

Giants (86-79, 2nd place in NL West)

Favored Players on 40-man:  Aubrey Huff (Huff Daddy!), Ryan Theriot (How can you not like a guy whose last name is “The Riot”?), Angel Pagan (How can you not like a guy with a name like a theological debate?)
Top 100:  Brandon Belt, Eric Surkamp

Although my mother was a Giants fan (until they left New York, anyway), I’d have a hard time rooting for a team where the closer has a tiny civilization in his beard.

And now, Joe Shlabotnik’s Emergency Backup Team for  2012 is…

The Pittsburgh Pirates

This probably isn’t a surprise to anyone who reads my blog regularly.  I realized that between the Emergency Backup Team post and the 1960 World Series post and the Luke Walker post, I’d answered my own question before I realized it myself.

Both the Royals and Mariners are teams I like in general, so they’re sort of the backups to the backups.

So congratulations, Pirates fans!  You’ve got an addition to your huddled masses.  To celebrate, I will haul out one of my 1974 customs from 4 years ago: